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Closet maker walks in to bigger space

Closet maker walks in to bigger space

Jennifer Williams moves firm to Big Bend

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Jennifer Williams, owner of Saint Louis Closet Co. in Maplewood, has taken her entrepreneurial spirit to a new location in Maplewood.

The business had been located at 7460 Manchester Road and has moved to a 30,000-square-foot building at 2626 S. Big Bend Blvd.

Williams said the move is necessary because the company has experienced growth of more than 20 percent each year for the past five years.

"Due to this enormous growth, we had run out of space for manufacturing, new product lines and office staff," she said. "By purchasing the new building, we have doubled our manufacturing capabilities and have added significant space to our showroom, allowing customers more choices for their closets."

The former location consisted of only 9,600 square feet. This building is being placed for sale by 22 Co. Property Management LLC for $1.5 million.

Rachelle L'Ecuyer, Maplewood's community development director, said, "The new Saint Louis Closet Company building is an extraordinary example of the positive growth and development that is raising the bar and putting Maplewood on the map as a viable market and place to do business."

Williams started the business in 1991 with experience in graphics design and the custom closet industry. Prior to opening the business, she had spent months researching and developing a business plan to present to a bank.

Williams said, "In order to do this, I dropped out of the Saint Louis University Graduate School and worked evenings waiting tables."

She then approached Boatmen's National Bank for a Small Business Administration loan with just a good idea and a well-written business plan, she said. Williams was given a $50,000 business loan and started her business.

"Today the company employs over 50 people and anticipates breaking $6 million in sales by the end of 2007," she said.

Williams does not foresee her company facing many problems concerning the impending Interstate 64 (Highway 40) construction.

"Since our 12 installation crews all dispatch each morning in different directions, we are not that worried about construction," she said. "We are so close to Interstate 44 and Manchester Road, we are confident the Highway 40 construction project will not delay progress with our business."

Saint Louis Closet Co. designs, manufactures and installs custom closets and organizational systems for residential and commercial clients.

"We have a unique system," Williams said. "Where other closet companies hang organizers on existing walls - a practice that is not as secure or as adjustable as our product, we provide a safe, floor-based closet system built of our laminated shelving that is totally adjustable from the floor to the ceiling."

The Glendale Lutheran Church Early Learning Center had a 12-by-6-foot closet installed about three years ago.

Jenny Gastler, the early learning center's director, said the closet has become a destination.

"People come to see our closet," she said.

The closet is large and includes a countertop for a paper cutter, space for file drawers, roll-out bins, shelves and some open storage.

"The closet was custom-made to our needs," she said. "It has been a great help in managing our materials.

The Saint Louis Closet Co. also has two showrooms, one in Chesterfield and the other in St Charles.

Williams' roots are tied to the St. Louis area. She grew up in Kirkwood and is a graduate of Kirkwood High School.

You can contact Todd Smith at tosmith@yourjournal.com.

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